Competitors ready for festival big break

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The 2014 N.Ireland Mr Chips Special Festival of Pool commences on Friday 14th November in the Lodge hotel, Coleraine, with play continued on the Tuesday 18th through to Wednesday 19th.

The festival is now in its 22nd year, which is once again supported by Coleraine Borough Council.

This event gives people with learning difficulties, mental health problems and physical disabilities the opportunity to compete both for national and international titles.

It will be played in the luxurious Lodge Hotel, Coleraine, on 21 specially installed Supreme pool tables from Baizecraft, Lisburn. The 2014 festival is sure to be the highlight of the year for all the pool players from Special Schools and Day Care facilities in Northern Ireland.

On Friday 14th the All Abilities Individuals will be decided. This category caters for players with mental health problems and physical disabilities. Wheelchair player Rab McMaw from Ballynure will be the player to beat as he tries to secure his ninth N.Ireland title but a surprise winner could come from anyone representing the Armour, Ballymoney or our newly joined Pavestone Centre from Coleraine.

Junior players from various schools across Northern Ireland take centre stage on Tuesday when they compete for the Northern Ireland Team championship. Local school Sandelford, will be determined that one of their three teams will be triumphant but they will be pushed all the way by teams from Hillcroft Special School from Newtownabbey or Carrick Junior Gateway Club.

Tuesday also sees the start of the senior events with 3 team titles being played for. The Men’s team event is once again guaranteed to be hotly contested but last years winners, Rathmoyle from Ballycastle, will not concede the crown easily.

Their most likely challenge should come from ASL Bangor. In the Ladies event local centre Mountfern will be trying to wrestle the title from the ladies of Maghera, last year’s champions. The winner of the very popular Social team event could come from any of the twenty two entered teams. Muckamore Abbey from Antrim are sure to be in the hunt for this title but strong challenges can be expected to come from the Bayview Centre from Bangor, Belfast’s Conlig, and Cookstown Gateway Club.

On Wednesday evening members of the NIPA Ladies international team who will just have retuned from International duty in Perth, Scotland pair up with the players to compete in an entertaining doubles competition.

The three individual championships for Men, Ladies and Socials are played on Thursday. Defending men’s champion Sammy Johnston from Larne will have to be at his best if he is going to achieve his success of last year.

However the main challenge will come from multiply European champion Paddy Reid. In the ladies individuals Francis McCann, the defending champion will start the ladies event as favourite but she will be pushed all the way by her International team mates Susan O’Kane and Valerie Taggart.

The social individuals will be a much more open contest with anyone of the 70 entrants capable of winning it. The 2013 winner local player Johnny Fulton from Mountfern, Coleraine will have his work cut out if he is to repeat last year’s victory.

The chairman of the Northern Ireland Special Pool Committee, Mr Mervyn Taggart expressed his delight with the level off entries which he said spoke volumes for the reputation and organisation of the festival.

On behalf of all the players he thanked the festivals main sponsor, Mr Clem Howard of Mr Chips, Portrush, Coleraine Borough Council and the Lodge Hotel for their invaluable support of the event.

He also expressed his gratitude to all table sponsors and to the local volunteers who referee on a daily basis.